Welcome and Savour the Moment

Whether this is your first experience of higher education, or you’re returning after a break from study, the start of the academic year is an exciting time and it can sometimes seem a bit overwhelming!  With so much to take in, from finding your way around campus (Bonus points if you’re based at Strand and have managed to locate the Chesham building, which is notoriously difficult to find!), to navigating the transport system if you’re new to London, to establishing your social group; it can all go by in a bit of a blur.

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People often talk about ‘being in the moment’ and, whilst this can sound a little cringe-worthy to some, it’s worth unpacking what this can look and feel like and how it can help.   When we’re rushing around, trying to get ourselves organised and fit in our many different commitments, we often don’t even notice the world around us, much less what’s going on for us internally.   Sometimes, it’s important to slow down and check in with ourselves, notice how we’re feeling in our bodies and minds, ask ourselves which aspects of our lives feel fulfilled and which might need a little tlc.  And who can we reach out to so we can achieve that?  Taking notice of the external world, too, can help anchor us in the present, rather than being caught up in thinking about the past or stressing about the future.

This was probably best summed up at one of our Welcome to King’s panel discussions. When one of our new students asked the very helpful question “What one piece of advice would you give to us at this point in time?”, there were many useful suggestions, including this point from the Counselling Service; “Just breathe!”.

Savour the Moment Challenge

  • Take some quiet time to yourself to check in and notice how you’re feeling at the moment. Use our wheel of wellbeing tool to help you do this.  Think about each segment and rate your wellbeing out of 10 to identify your areas of strength and development.   If things are a little out of kilter, what could you do to restore that balance?  Perhaps our wellbeing toolbox can provide a good starting point.
  • Identify some times and places to carve out some quiet time for reflection on your own wellbeing. Spent 20 minutes reading, meditating, or just sitting with your own thoughts.  Why not try out the following spaces and see how they feel:
  • Wellbeing room, Maughan Library
  • Chaplaincy rooms – there’s one on each campus
  • Strand and Guy’s chapels
  • Try out our 20 minute vinyasa flow yoga tasters
  • Try a Be Active yoga class
  • Check out the mindfulness sessions run on a weekly basis during term time by the Chaplaincy. Click your campus to find out where and when.view over thames small
  • Take notice of and really savour three things a day that give you pleasure as a starting point. Use your senses to guide you. Was it a beautiful view over the Thames, your favourite song or podcast on the way to lectures, the smell of your shower gel, the taste of your morning coffee, the feeling of a cool breeze?  Sometimes it’s the small things that ground us and bring us back to the present to take us out of our racing thoughts.

For a recap of the different support services available on campus, check out Tuesday’s ‘Welcome and Never Stop Learning’ post

 

New Year New Start with King’s Wellbeing

New Year New Start: Build your vision for 2017

 Welcome back to King’s and Happy New Year!  As we step into 2017, our thoughts might be turning to academic and personal goals for the coming months.  Sometimes, we can be tempted to set ourselves lofty targets that leave us more stressed than motivated and feeling disappointed when we don’t meet our own expectations.  How many of us have banished all treats, signed up to the gym and pledged to spend an inordinate number of hours in the library, only to find ourselves binge-watching our favourite Netflix series, unhealthy snacks in hand a couple of weeks later?  We’ve all been there! And that’s OK.

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King’s Wellbeing takes a different approach.  Firstly, we want you to celebrate your achievements in 2016.  What went well? What are you proud of? Take a moment to reflect.  And what did you learn?  Even if everything didn’t go quite to plan, there is always something that we can take forward into the future to help us grow and we can feel proud of ourselves for making it through a difficult period.

Next week marks the start of our New Year New Start campaign and there’s a reason why we don’t subscribe to the ‘New Year New You’ motto that emerges every January.  We don’t believe that there’s anything wrong with the old you! We believe in the resourcefulness of all our students to build on the foundation that is already there and become the best version of themselves.

So, let’s not focus exclusively on what we want to change and dwell too much on the negatives.  Let’s look at where we want to be, what we want to achieve, and see 2017 as a year of new possibilities.  Try and focus on manageable and tangible goals as part of an incremental process of positive growth.  Don’t forget to recognise your successes along the way, however small, and remember to take care of your wellbeing!  If you’re struggling to identify your goals and how to get there and would benefit from some support, why not make an appointment for some wellbeing coaching?

 Don’t forget also that in addition to King’s Wellbeing, there are a multitude of services on campus to help you attain your academic, personal and health and fitness goals. Check out Study Skills, English Language Centre, King’s Sport and Be Active as a starting point.  If you’re trying to connect more with the KCL community, have a look at the KCLSU societies – from film and literature, to hot chocolate, to circus skills, there’s truly something for everyone! Looking for a friendly face and a listening ear to talk things over in confidence?  You can always get in touch with the KCL peer supporters or the Chaplaincy.  

For New Year New Start, King’s Wellbeing will also be around on every campus over the next two weeks to help you to get off on the right foot and provide a space to reflect on how to boost your wellbeing.  Join us for interactive stalls, relaxation workshops, yoga and more! New Year New Start needn’t be daunting and can even be fun!

 

A Merry Christmas on a Budget

Some words of wisdom from Money Mentor Claire on celebrating the festive season in style without spending a fortune.  Don’t forget too that next week is ‘Claim It! Week‘ raising awareness of student funding and discounts.  Comes in very handy at this time of year!

Halloween is Over, Now we can Talk About Christmas

It is nearly Christmas! Yay – lights, songs, presents! Sadly though, it is also nearly the end of your first term at university, which means your bank account is looking as sparse as the North Pole.

So what can you do to save money in the festive season? No one wants to be a complete miserly Scrooge, but here is my advice on how to have fun and be merry with only one glass of Mulled Wine.

 1. Lightslights

Bond Street, Regent Street and Oxford Street are all next to one another and their close proximity means they compete for who can dangle the brightest lights above our heads. It is a spectacular sight to see, and as the days get shorter, you don’t even have to wait too long in the evening before it is dark enough to enjoy them. Although the expensive shops lining the streets may not be free, the walks though London’s most iconic roads are, so grab a friend and light up their world.

carnaby 2. Shopping Events

We still have one month before we have to buy gifts and wrap them up with bows and ribbons, but if you are as indecisive as I am, then we had better start thinking about what to buy for our loved ones now. Thankfully, we can have some fun while doing it at Carnaby Street and Seven Dials. These are two lesser well known areas near Regent Street and Covent Garden, but they are packed with a huge variety of shops. What’s better, is that they have a Launch Street Party on the 12th and 17th of November respectively, where they will have live music and complimentary food and drink. Loads of shops will be offering discounts for that evening too (and I can almost guarantee there will be a photo booth) so go along to make stressful Christmas shopping more manageable.

https://www.carnaby.co.uk/news-and-events/your-free-carnaby-christmas-shopping-party-ticket/

https://www.sevendials.co.uk/events/seven-dials-christmas-2016/

 3. Skate at Somerset House 

We are King’s students, so going ice skating right next to campus in a stunning venue is asomerset house must. Plus, we can get student discount so the tickets are only £8.50 (although this is only valid at certain times – see the website link below for details).

There are also special events like Club Nights and the Pop-Up Fortnum & Mason shop next to the rink will make an avid coffee drinker like myself, turn to tea for the evening.

https://www.somersethouse.org.uk/whats-on/skate-somerset-house

Birthday Hacks: Happy birthday KCL Money Mentors!

It’s KCL Student Money Mentors’ first birthday!  For a year now, this dedicated group of financially savvy students has been on hand to help support the KCL student community, giving guidance on making their money go that bit further at uni. 

Following her top tips for freshers and to celebrate their one year anniversary, Money Mentor Claire is back with her take on a how to indulge yourself on your birthday without breaking the bank! The Money Mentors will also be about on all campuses next week for the annual Claim It campaign.

Thanks KCL Student Money Mentors and KCL Money Advice for all your hard work!

And if it’s your birthday today… have a good one!

Birthday Hacks

Happy Birthday! You are another year older, but despite all that wisdom which comes with your many years, you are still getting a grey hair or two when you think about your finances. Listen up, here are three gifts you can give yourself which will make your birthday even more special.

1. Krispy Kreme

I have started with the one you probably already know about, and if you don’t, have your eyes been glazed over for the past decade? (okay, bad pun)donut

Krispy Kreme will give you a free glazed doughnut on your birthday, and also for three friends/ family members when you add their birthdays to your profile (it is supposed to be your treat from you, to them, but I promise I won’t tell anyone if you accidentally eat it on the way home) Not only this, but when you sign up to the newsletter, you get another complimentary glazed doughnut – we are nearly at half a dozen now, and haven’t spent a penny!

2. Ed’s Easy Diner

American Fast Food Chains seem to be sneaking up everywhere, and getting more and more popular. You can’t say no to a thick, creamy, traditional American milkshake, even in the middle of winter, so I recommend you down to Ed’s diner. When you sign up their newsletter, you will receive a free burger (with purchase of a drink) for registering, and then a free milkshake of your choice on your birthday.

 bday cake3Konditor & Cook

I have saved my favourite one for last. I came across this by chance when I was walking through Borough Market, marvelling at the delicious food I would never be able to afford, when a spectacular cake caught my eye. As much as a showstopper as Tom’s cake in Botanical Week on the Great British Bake Off, I was drawn towards the window of Konditor & Cook, and it was there that I saw the card asking for my email address, persuading me to part with my personal information so I could get a free slice of cake on my birthday.

Now, if you have been lucky enough to try a cake from this sensational shop then you will understand that any other Mini Chocolate Brownie Bites are no comparison. It is certainly the sweetest loyalty scheme I have ever found.

(FYI – the nearest store to Guy’s Campus is at Borough Market, and the nearest one to Waterloo/Strand is just behind Waterloo train station. If anyone decides to go, let me know, and I will give you my card to stamp – if you buy 6 slices of cake your 7th is free. 😉 These people really ought to give me commission….)

And so I wish you many happy returns of the day. 😀

Close this blog, turn off the computer and go and celebrate your birthday in style. You never know, maybe someone slipped a £20 note into the envelope with the birthday card…

My Journey with Yoga

As we enter the second week of Take Time Out 2016, which will see more opportunities for rest and relaxation, including yoga, mindfulness and tai chi, Wellbeing Coach and yoga enthusiast Belinda Okuya shares her own personal journey with yoga and the benefits it has brought to her wellbeing.

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KCL students practising yoga with instructor Jennifer during the 2016 Take Time Out campaign

 

My Journey with Yoga – KCL Wellbeing Coach Belinda Okuya

The name yoga derives from a Sanskrit word meaning ‘union’, ‘to join’, the mind, body and spirit, through the practice of postures, meditation and controlled breathing. There are many different types of yoga, but they all serve the same aforementioned purpose.

I started practicing yoga regularly about three years ago. It’s been a steady development of myself and my body throughout that time. Developing my stamina, my posture, my strength, my breathing and my focus. My evolving relationship with the practice of yoga reflects the evolution of my relationship with my mind and body too. I have gained physical and mental strength by pushing beyond my boundaries, and greater clarity and calm by connecting with my mind through my body on a deeper level. I’ve learnt that whatever I experience on the mat I experience in my world, which has helped me to grow and develop greater self-understanding and compassion.

Yoga is a dance between control and surrender – between pushing and letting go – and when to push and when to let go becomes part of the creative process, part of the open-ended exploration of your being”. Joel Kramer

Benefits of Yoga

The benefits of yoga are many and varied. Like many things in life you get out of it what you’re ready to put in. Unlike many other forms of exercise there is a spiritual element to yoga, which is a part of the practice that you can choose, along with your body, to explore further, each time you get on the mat. Otherwise some of the other well-known benefits are:

  • Stress relief – reduce the physical effects of stress on the body.
  • Better breathing – Yoga slows down and deepens the breath, which activates the body’s parasympathetic system (relaxation response).
  • Weight management – A study from the Journal of Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine found that regular yoga practice was associated with less age-related weight gain.
  • Increased strength – Yoga postures use every muscle in the body.
  • Cardiovascular conditioning – Yoga practice increases endurance and oxygen supply to the body.
  • Calm and relaxation – Regular yoga practice has a meditative quality.

From Yoga Alliance.

“Yoga is the Journey of the Self, Through the Self, To the Self” – Bhagavad Gita

Take Time Out moves to the Maughan Library!

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What a fantastic first week of the Take Time Out campaign we had last week! Amidst the revision, there were daily yoga and meditation sessions, free fruit and water, countless smoothies made on the ever-popular smoothie bike and lots of smiles and laughter.

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As exams near, it can be tempting to lock yourself away in the library, but King’s Wellbeing and King’s Sport are here to show you another way; one that allows you to be kind to yourself and still aim for peak performance.  This week, we’re outside the Maughan Library until the 14th of May, with a range of activities to help you keep active and chill out during revision breaks and more healthy snacks and freebies. Hope to see you there!WP_20160505_10_58_40_Pro (002)

You can follow the Take Time Out campaign as it happens here: https://twitter.com/kingswellbeing

Tai Chi for Take Time Out

Jalal profile picAs part of the Take Time Out campaign, Careers Consultant Jalal Afhim will be running tai chi sessions on:

Monday the 9th of May at the Maughan Library 5-6pm

Monday the 16th of May at Guy’s campus from 5-6pm. 

Here, Jalal tells us about the different elements of the Chen style of tai chi and how it can benefit our wellbeing.

Chen style tai chi

Chen Style tai chi (or taijiquan) originated in central China, when Ming Dynasty general Chen Wangting (1580-1660) combined his knowledge of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), and external martial arts, with internal martial arts/self-cultivation techniques originating in the Taoist community at Wudang Mountain. The martial art was taught only within the family, from one generation to the next, until Chen Changxing taught his servant Yang Luchan. Yang went on to found Yang Style tai chi. The last 30 years have seen Chen Style being taught well beyond its traditional confines, as the Chen family have worked hard to bring their art to a wider audience. In particular Chen Xiaowang’s efforts have led to the founding of tai chi schools and groups across Europe, Australia, and the United States.Jalal 1

Tai chi demonstrations at Take Time Out

I will be demonstrating some reeling silk (chan si) exercises. Reeling silk is a type of movement fundamental to Chen Style, and not obviously present in the other tai chi styles. It is a consistent part of the Chen Style curriculum, and builds leg strength, hip flexibility, and the spiralling movement (luo xuan) from which Chen Style derives its power. See videos of Chen Xiaowang or Chen Xiaoxing (his brother) on Youtube for demonstrations of power (fa jin/fa li) or reeling silk. I will also demonstrate some chi gong techniques, and the opening of the empty hand long form known as Laojia Yilu.

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Other elements to Chen style tai chi training (not being demonstrated)

The curriculum in Chen Style is varied, and includes the following:

  • Weapon forms: dadao (halberd), straight sword, saber, spear, pole, three-section staff
  • Pole-shaking
  • Standing post (a static chi-gong exercise)
  • Silk reeling (single & double handed, static & stepping)
  • Push hands (single & double-handed, static & stepping, semi- and full-contact)
  • Empty hand long form, first route (Laojia Yilu)
  • Cannon Fist (Laojia Erlu)

Benefits to Wellbeing

Tai chi is both a martial art, and a form of exercise which nurtures good health and wellness. It is very versatile in that it can be practiced in a physically demanding way for the more athletically inclined, or a less demanding way for those who are older or frailer. It promotes:

  • Enhanced body awareness and control (can also help posture)
  • Relaxation, both physical and mental
  • Balance and leg strength (especially useful for the elderly)
  • Healthy circulation (helping joint health)
  • Good digestion (due to the waist rotation movements and abdominal breathing)
  • Self-defence (although this takes longer to develop than most martial arts)

Where to learn more

  • You can read about the Chen Family school in Henan Province, China, here. This is where I was taught.
  • The school in Chenjiagou has a UK branch, here.
  • There is a good exponent of Chen Style teaching in London, here.